US researchers have unveiled holographic technology to transmit and view moving three-dimensional images.
The prototype device has a 10-inch monochrome viewing screen and the picture refreshes every two seconds – much too slow to convey natural movement.
But the researchers are confident that, now they have proved the concept, it will be possible to develop a full-colour system large enough to capture the human body and fast enough to give smooth movements. Professor Peyghambarian said it would take at least seven to 10 years’ work before a consumer version of the system was ready to test in people’s homes.
The technology is insensitive to vibration and could be used in noisy industrial environments for product design and manufacturing.
Telemedicine, especially for brain surgery, is another application put forward in the Nature paper. “Surgeons at different locations around the world could use the technique to observe in three dimensions, in real-time, and to participate in the surgical procedure,” the researchers say.
Prof Peyghambarian was enthusiastic about teleconferencing. “Let’s say I want to give a presentation in New York,” he said. “All I need is an array of cameras here in my Tucson office and a fast internet connection. At the other end, in New York, there would be the 3D display using our laser system.
“Everything is fully automated and controlled by computer. As the image signals are transmitted, the lasers inscribe them into the screen and render them into a three-dimensional projection of me speaking,” he said.